Hello to all of you, “The future is bright”. This was one of the slides presented by a speaker from civil society at last week’s conference in Casablanca. The African Network of data protection authorities was meeting and analysing how data protection could be a development leverage for the continent. The discussion was truly inspiring, so many ideas and so much energy among all actors. Of course, a lot of challenges remain. But the African “digital revolution”, as some may call it, could offer a real opportunity to integrate from the start privacy and data protection in the digital ecosystem they want to build, attractive for consumers and investors.
The day after the conference, sun was still shining in Casablanca. The African network held its general assembly, starting with a discussion on the future of the International Conference, making its voice heard on the road we want our organisation to take. With all these regional conversations through which ideas and needs are expressed, I believe we have a unique opportunity to build a collective project for our Conference. And I am eager to see the working group in charge making the most of these inputs.
Three weeks ago, a bright sun in Brussels also welcomed the election of our colleague Andrea Jelinek as the new Chair of the Article 29 Working Party. I had the opportunity to pass on all my wishes of success to Andrea, whom I am sure will deliver on the upcoming new chapter for data protection in the EU with the effective application of the GDPR as of 25th May.
25th May, this date has been repeated over and over during the last two years. Some commentators made it an absolute deadline, sometimes depicting it as a global data protection big bang. But it is not a revolution, most of the principles are known since 1995. It is actually more like a step forward, or a jump ahead, for which companies around the globe as well as data protection authorities have been preparing intensively. Europeans are now busy finalising the setting up of the European Data Protection Board, the final stage of the new EU governance model, which will be key to ensure the consistent application of the new European data protection regime, but also its interactions with authorities outside the Union.
In Brussels, the Article 29 Working Party also organized its session on the future of the Conference. I had the pleasure to chair the meeting together with a representative of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. A report on the talks is already available.
Now I’m back in Paris. We are freezing below zero and there is no sun. But light can come from virtual things nowadays! I am glad to tell you that, through the poll that has been organized, our members have chosen artificial intelligence as the key theme for our closed session in October. Artificial intelligence being the new buzzword in the media, the next big thing or even sometimes the subject of fanciful analysis, it may be useful for us to take a clear stance on the matter, and to define our common interpretation on how best to address this technological development from a privacy and data protection perspective in the future.
As you can imagine, the Brussels annual conference already keeps the ICDPPC Executive Committee busy, with the preliminary work on the preparation of the closed session, on which I’ll be keen to keep you updated in future communications. I know for sure that we won’t be missing topics for discussion in Brussels since, when it comes to privacy and data protection, there is always something new under the sun!
Chair of the International Conference executive committee